The Fulbright program was founded in the aftermath of World War II on the belief that by learning more about other peoples and cultures, mankind might be moved to “develop a capacity for empathy, and  distaste for killing others,” as Fulbright pointedly put it. He elaborated on this basic idea in a speech to the Council on International Educational Exchange in 1983:

Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations. Man’s capacity for decent behavior seems to vary directly with his perception of others as individual humans with human motives and feelings, whereas his capacity for barbarism seems related to his perception of an adversary in abstract terms, as the embodiment, that is, of some evil design or ideology.” [Speech to the Council on International Educational Exchange, 1983]

As such, a vision of empathy and social justice has guided the Fulbright program from the outset. Yet while its origins can be traced to lofty visions of international goodwill, it is as a prestigious academic program that Fulbright has become best known, and its reputation for excellence is underscored by a distinguished roster of grantees: 54 Fulbright alumni have received Nobel prizes, 29 are MacArthur Foundation Fellows, 82 alumni have received Pulitzer prizes, and 33 Fulbright alumni have served as heads of state or government.

The impact of the Fulbright program operates on several levels; at the personal level, nearly every Fulbrighter can look back on a year of personal and academic enrichment, and the investment of that year abroad will continue to yield professional and personal dividends for many years to come.  At the institutional level, a Fulbrighter will contribute to the quality and international reach of the institution and help build lasting relationships between Norwegian and U.S. research and education communities. Finally, at the level of the national interest, the Fulbright program – with a reputation for excellence that is recognized at great universities and research institutions all over the world – can play a significant role in national strategies that seek to raise the quality of education and research through international collaboration and partnerships.